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Table of Contents

The Customer Service Quality Assurance Handbook

quality assurance handbook

 

Customer service quality assurance (QA), also referred to as customer service quality control, is a methodical way to assess and implement the actions that make customer service effective. It’s used primarily to train and onboard agents by reviewing their support interactions. The main objective of support QA is to improve and sustain support quality and customer satisfaction.

 

 

During busy times, like holiday periods or backlog, QA is often the first thing to go — especially if you’re still managing QA manually on spreadsheets. Creating an efficient process ensures that QA is a priority, facilitates high-quality service year-round, and improves customer retention.

 

 

But how and when should you implement customer service quality assurance in your support team? In this article, we’ll look at what customer service QA is, why it’s important, how to scale your processes, and more.

 

 

Let’s dive in.

 

What is customer service quality assurance?

Customer service quality assurance is the ongoing process of monitoring, analyzing, and improving your team’s customer conversations. It’s a crucial final pulse check at the end of the customer experience that helps you measure the quality of services your team is providing.

Why is quality assurance important in customer service?

Quality assurance helps improve internal processes by pinpointing performance outliers, increasing coaching efficiency, and empowering agents to improve their own performance. Good quality assurance ultimately leads to the goal of better customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) and customer loyalty.

In fact, according to Salesforce Research, 91% of customers say they’re more likely to make another purchase after a great customer service experience. 71%  said they have made purchase decisions based on the quality of customer service.

QA is essential for many reasons, including succeeding at the following:

 

 

  • Providing consistent service quality. Service inconsistencies are harmful to your customers’ experience and are operationally inefficient. A QA process that establishes one clear standard of service across all customer service teams allows you to decide the quality criteria to measure every customer conversation against.
 
  • Pinpointing performance outliers. When you know which areas to develop it’s much easier to improve your team’s performance. QA processes help analyze the performance of each agent using a QA checklist. Use your QA checklist to analyze an agent’s performance efficiency, empathy, tone, and solution.
 
  • Improving coaching efficiency. Use the data collected during the QA process to pinpoint performance weaknesses and improve the effectiveness of your coaching.
  • Empowering agents to improve their quality. As teams develop a bottom-up customer service approach, it’s increasingly common to have transparency for performance data. When agents get real-time performance metrics they can take ownership of their performance. This encourages them to be highly engaged, motivated, and eager to improve.
Why is quality assurance important in customer service?
  • Boosting customer loyalty and retention. Often when customers contact you for support, you’re making a critical first impression of your company. In fact, Zendesk reports around half of consumers say they would switch to a new brand after one bad customer service experience. After more than one bad interaction, the number increases to 80%!

What are the primary goals of QA in customer service?

Improving quality assurance in customer service is crucial to make sure your agents are delivering the right solutions, providing timely answers, and exceeding customer expectations. To succeed at QA, it’s important to combine internal evaluations with customer feedback.

Customer service quality assurance can help ensure that your team is:

 

  • Meeting customer expectations. The QA system can help you measure what your customers expect compared to what your team delivers. When customer expectations are met it leads to more reliability in the company, increased customer loyalty, and more sales.

 
  • Delivering solutions efficiently. Customers want answers quickly and accurately. Setting out your service standards in your quality assurance process allows agents to proactively provide a stellar customer experience the first time round.

How do CSAT scores inform QA?

All businesses that are customer-centric need to measure and track how satisfied customers are. CSAT scores reflect more than just the quality of support and can help you measure whether you are achieving your customer service goals. These scores combine all facets of the customer experience with your brand, including customers’ attitudes toward support, marketing, sales, and product.

 

But when it comes to quality control and customer satisfaction scores, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

 

  • Some customers may not understand how complex their requests are and they don’t know what happens behind the scenes.  Something they’re asking for may take time to implement and this could result in poor CSAT scores. In cases like this, it’s usually out of your agents’ hands.

 
  • Customers can only tell you how well your team performed with regard to their personal expectations, not the standards you have in place to assure quality.

When to use customer support quality assurance?

Now that we know why customer support QA is critical, let’s take a look at when to use it. Customer support quality assurance can be used in many conversations including:

 

  • Taking random samples from all support interactions. Feedback on random samples will provide you with a realistic snapshot of your team’s service quality day-to-day.
 
  • Reviewing conversations that receive a customer satisfaction rating. It’s important to review CSAT ratings carefully to see if you need to forward feedback to marketing, sales, product development, or another team. 
 
  • Evaluating conversations from new agent onboarding. There’s no better way to learn than by doing, so it’s important to coach new agents by reviewing conversations during their training period. 
When to use customer support quality assurance​

How to set up a quality assurance framework in your customer service team?

Set up a quality assurance framework for your team before diving into customer interactions. A QA framework provides the right tools and knowledge to measure service quality before you start collecting data. 

Defining quality

 

In order to measure quality, you first need to define it. Here are some tips for defining quality in your QA process:

 

  • Setting your goals and objectives. Making sure you and your team of agents are on the same page will help you deliver quality customer service that meets your expectations.
 
  • Outlining internal quality standards. Setting quality standards that your agents can follow will ensure they know what you expect. It will also make it easier to work towards those requirements.

Measuring quality

Once you define what quality customer service means to you and outline it for your team, you’ll want to create a way to measure success.

 

You can start by:

 

  • Setting up a QA checklist with your internal standards. Creating a QA checklist with scoring criteria will help you measure internal quality standards. We’ll take a closer look at this in the next section.
 
  • Choosing metrics to measure agents against. A few commonly used KPIs in QA are customer satisfaction score (CSAT), net promoter score (NPS), and negative response rate (NRR).

Giving feedback 

The key to improvement is giving quality feedback at the right time and using data you’ve collected to improve customer interactions.

 

When giving feedback, make sure you’re:

 

  • Focusing on behavior as well as quality scores. Agents are humans, not robots and their performance deserves to be carefully and correctly monitored. Only looking at scores will not allow you to provide constructive feedback that motivates agents to perform better.  
 
  • Providing regular and timely feedback. Sharing positive feedback right away can inspire agents and making feedback a regular part of the process will make it less daunting (when it’s negative).  

Creating your customer service QA scoring criteria

Creating your QA scoring criteria is a necessity to help you define and measure quality for your team. Scoring criteria will vary depending on your company’s specific goals. Most QA scoring criteria fall under the categories of solution, empathy or tone, and efficiency.

 

Let’s take a look at the most commonly used quality criteria and their accompanying agent checklists:

 

  • Solution. This is the most important and simplest quality category that will measure how effectively agents solve customer issues. A few checklist items for this category may include:
    • Solved customer’s issue
    • Gave alternatives when required or applicable
    • Displayed expert product knowledge
  • Empathy or tone. High-quality service will always include agents having a positive attitude. An agent’s tone can be the differentiator between a positive or negative customer review. A few checklist items for this category include:
    • Held a positive tone of voice throughout the conversation and empathized or apologized appropriately
    • Instilled confidence and trust in the customer
    • Offered additional support
  • Efficiency. You might not always consider efficiency when you think about QA, but this category encompasses more than just a speedy response to customer inquiries. Efficiency involves balancing resources and time to give customers solutions the first time and avoid repeat contacts. A checklist for efficiency might include:
    • Gave a concise solution and resolved the issue in a timely manner
    • Accurately categorized and updated notes on the case
    • Used macros appropriately

Ranking your rating categories by priority using a point system

 

 

All the criteria you’re ranking are important to your service, but some are more critical than others. Once you’ve determined which criteria you’re measuring, you’ll need to prioritize different categories.

 

Creating a scoring system will help you weigh and rank what is most important so you can make sure these benchmarks align with your business goals and KPIs.

Customer service QA scoring criteria

Scaling your QA process

When your team is growing and more tickets are coming in you need to scale your QA process to ensure your service quality matches your growth. This is where QA software like Kaizo can help you efficiently and quickly scale your process. 

 

Here are some ways Kaizo can help:

 

  • Evaluate quality at a glance. As your team begins to grow tracking and analyzing service quality can become a tedious task. Kaizo provides a unified point system that calculates your agents’ quality scores based on your companies KPIs.
 
  • Never leave your helpdesk. Quality assurance is not a standalone function in any customer service team, especially one that is expanding. Integrated QA tools ensure you can align your QA efforts with your team’s goals and objectives without wasting time shifting between multiple tools.
 
  • Exceeding customer expectations. Using tools to automate your QA process can help you improve service quality by more than 10% after just three months.

Should I start using customer service quality assurance tools?

Without the support of software to automate the QA process, manually managing QA can be a daunting and time-consuming process. With low customer volumes, you might be tempted to track QA on a spreadsheet. As the number of customers and team members grows, this can quickly turn into an inefficient nightmare and escalate until it’s completely unsustainable.

 

Using tools to connect to your CRM can help you streamline the QA process and automatically pull up conversations for review. That’s why we’ve built an integrated QA solution to save you time, energy, and money.

 

Most standalone QA tools require you to click in and out of your helpdesk to align on your QA and KPIs. With an integrated QA tool, you’ll save hours on data entry and searching for interactions to review. You’ll eliminate the need to build reports because you can access real-time quality scores in one centralized place. Also, you’ll never have to leave your CRM to review conversations.

 

Here are a few more ways QA tools and software can help you improve customer service quality assurance:

 

  • Creating customized scoring criteria for your unique business needs
  • Measuring quality score to evaluate your team’s performance
  • Reporting on your agents’ performance
How to set up QA for your customer service team

Choosing the right QA software

Now that you have a deeper understanding of customer service quality assurance, let’s take a look at a few questions to ask before selecting QA software for your company.

 

 

  • Is it a standalone or integrated solution? An integrated tool integrates with all your helpdesk metrics whereas a standalone solution is a separate tool.

  • Does it offer the features you need? Depending on your QA goals, make sure the software includes the functionalities you need to succeed.

  • Is the price within your budget? Look for QA software that has a range of pricing packages to choose from. This way you can start small and expand.

  • Will it allow you to scale? Look for tools that will abolish any time-consuming tasks you currently do manually to continue meeting customer expectations as your team grows.

  • How user-friendly is the platform? Choose QA software that is easy to use and works for your whole team.

  • Will you be in good company? Find out what other businesses use the software and look for user reviews and case studies.

QA in action: How Marley Spoon uses Kaizo to improve and scale customer service quality assurance

Marley Spoon, one of the world’s leading meal kit delivery services, uses Kaizo to excel at customer service quality assurance.

 

Marley Spoon quickly scaled from a team of 15 to 150 support teams across multiple countries. Before Kaizo, the company struggled to efficiently get insights on its team’s performance because of its manual QA process made up of dozens of spreadsheets.

 

After using Kaizo for automated real-time insights and QA, Marley Spoon saw progress in its process. During a period of hypergrowth, and while shifting to a fully remote workplace due to COVID, Kaizo helped them pinpoint performance areas and improve targeted retraining to ensure a consistent level of service quality across all teams.

Moving forward with quality assurance in customer service

Quality assurance is necessary if you want to be successful and experience growth in your business. Software enables you to grow and scale your efforts while giving customers a consistent experience. You can save time, energy, and money by using performance management software and tools to automate as much of this process as possible.

Want to improve the quality of your customer service?